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Karinthy, Frigyes

Entry updated 12 September 2022. Tagged: Author.

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(1887-1938) Hungarian translator and author, best known for his work outside the sf field, mostly humorous Satires first published as newspaper feuilletons; he also translated into Hungarian works by Jonathan Swift and Mark Twain, among others; father of Ferenc Karinthy. His untranslated first story, first published in an unidentified periodical and seemingly never translated, was visibly written under the influence of Jules Verne. His two continuations of Swift's Gulliver's Travels (1726; rev 1735) – Utázas Faremidóba (1916) and Capillária (1921) – assembled as Voyage to Faremido/Capillaria (omni trans Paul Tabori 1965 Hungary) – are intensely imagined Fantastic Voyages whose stopping points are societies conceived with Thought Experiment clarity. The first carries Karinthy's version of Gulliver to a Robot society whose inhabitants communicate by musical tones (see Communications; Music) – hence the name of their country: fa re mi do. The second carries him to an Under the Sea domain ruled by women (see Women in SF). Sharp-tongued and convincingly Swiftian, they are impressive (though at times misogynist) introductions to his melancholy, sometimes savage view of the twentieth century, a sense of a profoundly dysfunctional civilization that he dramatized prolifically in a variety of genres, often engaging in formal and Linguistics experiments. In Mennyei riport ["Celestial Report"] (1937) Merlin Oldtime, a British journalist, visits other Dimensions, where a series of Alternate Histories of the world can be examined. Karinthy's career, and his prescient use of robots as symbols of the dawning new age, were similar to Karel Čapek's, but he pulled fewer punches.

Though its title has an sf-like ring, Utazás a koponyám körül: Egy életmentő mütét története (1937; trans Vernon Duckworth Barker as A Journey Round My Skull 1939) is in fact a memoir of Karinthy's partial recovery from brain surgery. [JC]

see also: Hungary; Sequels by Other Hands.

Frigyes Ernő Karinthy

born Budapest, Austro-Hungarian Empire (now Hungary): 25 June 1887

died Sifok, Lake Balaton, Hungary: 29 August 1938




individual titles

  • Mennyei riport ["Celestial Report"] (Budapest, Hungary: Nova Irodalmi Intézet, 1937) [binding unknown/]



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